This information is provided by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD).
Porphyrias are a group of blood conditions caused by a lack of an enzyme in the body that makes heme, an important molecule that carries oxygen throughout the body and is vital for all of the body’s organs. Major types include ALAD deficiency porphyria, acute intermittent porphyria, congenital erythropoietic porphyria, erythropoietic protoporphyria, hepatoerythropoietic porphyria, hereditary coproporphyria, porphyria cutanea tarda, and variegate porphyria. The most common type of porphyria is porphyria cutanea tarda. Some of the symptoms of porphyria include blistering, swelling, and itching when the skin is exposed to sun. Other symptoms may also include pain, numbness or tingling, vomiting, constipation, and intellectual disability. There is no known cure for porphyria, but the various types have different courses of treatment, and may include bone marrow transplant.
Most porphyrias are inherited conditions with either an autosomal dominant or autosomal recessive pattern of inheritance. However, some forms of porphyria can be caused by environmental factors such as infections or exposures to certain prescription drugs. Porphyrias caused by environmental factors are called sporadic or acquired porphyria.
For more information, visit GARD.